Building Your Own Creative PD

DING! I turned my head to see the email pop up. Heart quickened, eyes focused. My first response letter from the NEH Summer Fellowship is in. I quickly scanned it just to see,

‘We regret to inform you that we cannot offer you a place for this year’s program.’

As my heart sank as the second DING from the NEH Gettysburg Fellowship sounded.

Same letter. Same reaction.

Even though it got me down (hence my FB post)...

Blog Pic #3 PLN brought my spirits back up and on April 4th (which also happened to be my 5th wedding anniversary –montage here-) Hilton Teacher Treks called.

“Genein, we received over 1000 applications and only 15 were chosen. Congratulations! You're among the chosen!  We are sending you to South Korea and Japan”, shared the enthusiastic director of the Hilton Teacher Treks. AHHHHHHHHH!!!!

Wow! Upon hearing that, I was immediately humbled yet ecstatic to be in that selective group. But while reviewing my essay, I know I have to give kudos to the presenters at Edcamp LA (David Theriault , Bill Selak and the Bedley Bros) for their part in helping me create a winning proposal.


The mission of Hilton Teacher Treks is to help teachers spread an understanding of cultures and create a future generation of travelers. This is based on the vision of Conrad Hilton, who desired to increase ‘world peace through international travel and trade.” Who not better to do that than educators?


Bkd0SmhCUAADCQG.jpg-largeSo that got me thinking, ‘How can I take what I learned from EdcampLA and CUE14 (student blogging, photo walks, visual literacy and increasing authentic audience) and combine it with lessons I already implement while aligning it with the mission of Hilton?’

Out of that question birthed these proposed essential questions:

1) How can the arts be used as a text for cultural and geographical exploration?
2) How can I widen the authentic audience for my students to share their cultural learning and interpretations of cultures using the arts?

It was from these questions I went to work on building my own creative PD that incorporated and interconnected social studies, geography, cultures, visual arts (paintings, photography,  architecture, script) and performing arts (music, dance and recitation of poetry). I will also be blogging during my excursion and will be interacting with my students (and with my PLN) from across the world.  Come travel with me virtually!


Blog 3aSaturday, we had a wonderfully intense Twitter chat, lead by David Culberhouse, on the theme of creativity. So many great questions (below) and responses permeated the feed but it reminded me how there needs to be PD time for teachers to tap into their own creativity. Jeff Farley mentioned that teachers should go to a PD not in their subject area. 'How can ELA integrate math? How can science marry social studies?'

Good stuff man. Good stuff!

What are YOU doing to enhance, provoke, exercise, or strengthen YOUR creativity?

Just food for thought. Nonetheless, I am grateful to God and to Hilton Teacher Treks for this special opportunity and I know that this experience abroad will revolutionize my teaching in a myriad of ways.

Congrats to Mr. Jeromie Heath who was selected to go to China! Let's collaborate!

Have a CREATIVE Week!

Genein M Letford

MUST Follows from  #satchatWC

@amyburvall @Braddo and @clonghb

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1)What does creativity and innovation look and sound like in education?
2) What has to happen to encourage more creative and innovative ways of thinking in education?
3) In what ways do we hamper and discourage creativity and innovation in education, our schools, and our classrooms?
4) What are you doing, learning and or reading to inspire more creativity and innovation in yourself and others?
5) Describe some ways that you've tried to engage more creativity and innovation in your work? How did it go?





I will begin my trip in Toyko, Japan and visit the Imperial Palace and East Gardens. At every location on the trip I will choose a track from the album ‘Japanese Traditional Music’ which will reflect my experience of the natural surroundings or architecture. I will also begin my ‘photo walk’ of each visit to storyboard my experience in each city. I will then choose one photo, and while listening to the chosen tradition musical piece, I will write a haiku expressing my interpretation of the environment (natural or man made).  Upon a visit to ‘Old Japan’ in Kyoto, I will head to South Korea.

After Kyoto I will arrive in Seoul, South Korea to further dive into the arts component of the trip. I will visit the National Center for Traditional Korean Performing Arts, The Korean House (which has a mask dance, pansori and other traditional dances) as well as the Traditional Korean Music Center, which features a hybrid of Korean drama, dance, music and samullori. The War Museum of Korea is where I will play ‘Arirang’ a famous Korean folksong and complete my first sijo, a Korean style poem.  I will also visit the Gyeongbok Palace.

The final two visits will be Gangneung, which holds the Sogeumgang Valley, and Changwom, where the Music Fountain in Yongji Lake holds a spectacular sight and exhibits how natural itself is musical. The Gyeongnam Art Museum will allow me to analyze South Korean Art and compare it to the Japanse art. I will continue my photo tour that started in Toyko, documenting these Asian cultures, scenery and people in a visual art form.

(If you are planning to apply next year and would like to see my proposal please connect with me via Twitter or the blog!)

 School - Life Photo Credit Unknown (please forward info if you have it!)